England Through the Ages

Presented by the

Ad Hoc Singers

Louise Lee, Director

with guests
Michael Donaldson, Conductor and Bass
and John Abbracciamento, Trumpet

7:30 p.m., Sunday, March 5, 1995
Capitol Hill Presbyterian Church
Washington, DC, USA

Agincourt Song Anonymous, 1415, Arr. for organ by Biggs
Louise Lee, Organ
Veni Redemptor John Redford, d. 1547
Louise Lee, Organ
The Lamentation of Jeremiah, Part I Thomas Tallis, 1505-1585
Here ye the lamentation of Jeremiah the Prophet.
Aleph. How does the city sit in loneliness that once was so full; now is she in her
widowhood that once was a queen over many a province, now laid in tribute.
Beth. By night she weepeth in sadness, and bitter grief now her countenance despoileth;
none lives who will console her sorrow of all who once were her lovers. All that were
friends afortime show scorn in her woe, and now are turned enemies against her.
Jerusalem, return again and seek the Lord, even thy God.
Michael Donaldson, Conductor
Pavane Thomas Tompkins, 1572-1656
Recorder Consort: Ronald Boucher, Malcom Ottaway, Steve Thompson, Brent Chivers, Jane Takeuchi
Mass for Five Voices William Byrd, 1543-1623
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Beati Quorum Via Charles V. Stanford, 1852-1924
Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord.
Hymn to St. Cecilia Benjamin Britten, 1913-1976
Text: W.H. Auden, 1907-1973
I. In a garden shady this holy lady
With reverent cadence and subtle psalm,
Like a black swan as death came on
Poured forth her song in perfect calm:
And by ocean's margin this innocent virgin
Constructed an organ to enlarge her prayer,
And notes tremendous from her great engine
Thundered out on the Roman air.
Blonde Aphrodite rose up excited,
Moved to delight by the melody,
White as an orchid she rode quite naked
In an oyster shell on top of the sea;
At sounds so entrancing the angels dancing
Came out of their trance into time again,
And around the wicked in Hell's abysses
The huge flame flickered and eased their pain.
Blessed Cecilia, appear in visions
To all musicians, appear and inspire:
Translated Daughter, come down and startle
Composing mortals with immortal fire.
II. I cannot grow;
I have no shadow
To run away from,
I only play.
I cannot err;
There is no creature
Whom I belong to,
Whom I could wrong.
I am defeat
When it knows it
Can now do nothing
By suffering.
All you lived through,
Dancing because you
No longer need it
For any deed.
I shall never be Different. Love me.
Blessed Cecilia, appear in visions
To all musicians, appear and inspire:
Translated Daughter, come down and startle
Composing mortals with immortal fire.
III. O ear whose creatures cannot wish to fall,
O calm of spaces unafraid of weight,
Where Sorrow is herself, forgetting all
The gaucheness of her adolescent state,
Where Hope within the altogether strange
From every outworn image is released,
And Dread born whole and normal like a beast
Into a world of truths that never change:
Restore our fallen day; O re-arrange.
O dear white children casual as birds,
Playing among the ruined languages,
So small beside their large confusing words,
So gay against the greater silences
Of dreadful things you did: O hang the head,
Impetuous child with the tremendous brain,
O weep, child, weep, O weep away the stain,
Lost innocence who wished your lover dead,
Weep for the lives your wishes never led.
O cry created as the bow of sin Is drawn across our trembling violin.
O weep, child, weep, O weep away the stain.
O law drummed out by hearts against the still
Long winter of our intellectual will.
That what has been may never be again.
O flute that throbs with the thanksgiving breath
Of convalescents on the shores of death.
O bless the freedom that you never chose.
O trumpets that unguarded children blow
About the fortress of their inner foe.
O wear your tribulation like a rose.
Blessed Cecilia, appear in visions
To all musicians, appear and inspire:
Translated Daughter, come down and startle
Composing mortals with immortal fire.
Voluntary John Stanley, 1712-1786
John Abbracciamento, Trumpet
Jubilate Deo Henry Purcell, 1659-1695

O, be joyful in the Lord, all you lands.
Serve the Lord with gladness, and come before His presence with a song.
Be ye sure that the Lord, He is God.
It is He that hat made us and not we ourselves;
we are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
O go your way into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise;
be thankful unto Him and speak good of His name.
Glory be to the Father; Glory be to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost;
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Soloists: Ronald Boucher, Hellen Gelband, Brent Chivers, Steve Thompson
Three Choruses from the
Dettingen Te Deum
George Frederic Handel, 1685-1759
Day by day, we magnify Thee.
And we worship Thy name ever world without end.
O Lord in Thee have I trusted; let me never be confunded.
Soloists: Ronald Boucher, Brent Chivers, Michael Donaldson

The Ad Hoc Singers
Louise Lee, Director
Ronald BoucherMyra Lee
Charlotte BristowNorma Meyer
Margaret BroughallMalcom Ottaway
Tim BurrEnid Rubenstein
Brent ChiversAndrea Shotkin
Robin CostanzaJane Takeuchi
Nancy DixonJane Thomas
Hellen GelbandStephen Thompson
Richard GillamJoanne Vesper
William KingdonJon Westergaard

The Ad Hoc Singers, an amateur chamber chorus devoted to traditional choral literature from the fifteenth through the twentieth centuries, has met on Capitol Hill since 1976. They have performed at The Lyceum, Anderson House, in area churches, and at Goodwin House. If you are a good sight reader and are interested in joining the group, please speak with one of the members after the concert.

Notes on the Program

The music on this evening's program ranges in mood from the grandeur of what has been called the "English commemmorative-patriotic-religious genre" (Purcell and Handel selections and on a small scale the Agincourt Song) to the more intimate and fervent sacred expressions of Tallis and Byrd.
John Redford, a playwright and poet as well as a composer, was master of the choristers at St. Paul's Cathedral in London from at least as early as 1534 until his death. His Veni Redemptor is in simple three-part counterpoint, the lower voice based on a Gregorian chant. Its serenity is here juxtaposed with Tallis's moving five-voice setting of the Lamentations of Jeremiah, part of the scriptures for use in Holy Week. Although Tallis did not necessarily intend it, the work with its plea "Jerusalem, return to the Lord" certainly brings to mind the religious and political turmoil in sixteenth-century Britain and elsewhere.
Byrd's Five-Voice Mass is one of three by this great master of polyphony, who himself remained catholic despite the English Reformation. He wrote music for both Anglican and Roman rites. Latin settings were in use in mid-century under the catholic monarch Mary Tudor, and Queen Elizabeth favored them despite the subsequent rapid trend toward services in English. But by the end of the century, when the Byrd masses appeard, their performance and even their possession would have been illegal. They may have been intended for gatherings and worship by catholics, "underground"; perhaps for some particular great catholic household. Byrd himself seems to have been so universally admired as a composer that he may have enjoyed a sort of immunity from the pogroms of the times.
Byrd's mass music is based on no known chant or other pre-existing melody, but rather is freely composed on original motifs.
Poems to St. Cecelia and their musical settings are an English tradition. Musicologist P. H. Lang writes "Although there is only a passing reference in her legend to her praising God in music, Cecilia somehow acquired fame as a musician, and painters early appropriated her as a favorite subject, creating magnificently-anachronistic scenes in which the second-century martyr plays on beautiful Renaissance and Baroque organs." Some of the Cecilian poems are as filled with seeming non sequiturs as are the paintings, involving elements from ancient history, mythology, and so forth. It helps to view these poems' true subject as being the power of music rather than the saint herself.
Auden wrote his hymn in 1942 for Benjamin Britten with the expectation that he would set it to music. Britten has made an interesting statement of philosophy: "One of my chief aims is to try to restore to the musical setting of the English language a brilliance, freedom, and vitality that have been curiously rare since the death of Purcell. ... The composer should not avoid unnatural stresses if the prosody of the poem and the emotional situation demand them, nor be afraid of a high-minded treatment of words, which may need prolongation far beyond their common speech length, or a speed of delivery that would be impossible in conversation."
Purcell's Jubilate was written in 1694 for a festival celebration of St. Cecilia's Day (November 22). His ceremonial church music owes much to the music performed at the court of Louis XIV in France, where Purcell's teacher Pelham Humphrey studied and his monarch, Charles II, was reared. (The king, "tired with the grave and solemn way which has been established by Tallis and Byrd ... ordered the composers of his Chapel to add symphonies etc. with instruments to their anthems" according to a contemporary account. Choral church services had come to an end by the 1640's under the Commonwealth; by the time they resumed the way was open for new musical influences.
The German Handel became a naturalized British subject in 1726, after his German employer, the Elector of Hanover, became King George I. He spend the remainder of his career in England. The Dettingen Te Deum was first heard in 1743 and was a popular favorite at St. Paul's Cathedral for many years.

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